TRANSITIONAL INTERIM PASTOR SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE
Church of God Ministries is pleased to announce TIPS: Transitional Interim Pastor Services, now available as a resource to regional/state ministries and the local church. Field-tested by pastors and ministry leaders who understand firsthand the interim process, TIPS puts intentionality and strategy back into the process churches undergo between pastors. TIPS is a solution for churches who fear decline following the departure of a pastor. No longer does the waiting period have to be awkward for the congregation or the interim pastor. Simply filling the pulpit instead becomes the vital filling of a void. First Church of God in Drexel, North Carolina, recently celebrated the arrival of a new senior pastor, and the opening of an exciting new chapter. But standing in the gap was TIPS pastor Don Jackson.
One Church’s Story
“Having TIPS involved in the life of Drexel helped in the following areas,” Don explains. “First, it provided stability in the time of crisis. The church board had been non-functioning and state leadership was having to manage the situation from a distance. Second, as interim pastor, I was able to encourage the congregation to follow the process, bringing back a trust-factor. Third, we engaged more people in ministry and decision-making as they took on more responsibility. Fourth, we helped the church to see the value of their past and a hope for the future. Last, we guided them into the development of ministries that matched the needs of their communities.”
The Church of God Ministries domestic ministries team is excited to make TIPS accessible to the Movement because it works. It worked in Drexel, and it can work anywhere. It works because the nuts and bolts of TIPS are sound. The entire structure, guided by a specific strategy, has been put to the test by ministers with years of interim experience. Accountability to the national, state ministries, and church board is written into the program, as is the encouragement to include state and national ministries in the church budget. Currently, fourteen Church of God pastors are going through the TIPS process of training and coaching. At present, three churches are currently using the TIPS program. From the beginning to the end of the process, TIPS is designed to ensure the church’s health before the new pastor arrives.
“When a church is facing a pastoral leadership transition—for whatever reason—there is an opportunity for the church to take a good look at who they are as a congregation,” Don explains. “This will help the church understand their specific reality and begin to face the future, knowing who they are as a people of God.”
What Others Are Saying
State and regional organizations will be pleased with the effect of TIPS on the local congregation, too. Pastor Mike Claypool of Carolina Ministries observed the benefits it had on First Church of God in Drexel. “I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about it,” Mike explains. “It’s helped the church prepare for the transition, heal, move forward, and work together to be ready for a new pastor.”
Maxine McCall, who served as state coordinator for North Carolina for twenty years, and worships with the Drexel congregation, says the TIPS program wasn’t “overtly noticeable” in the process. That’s a good thing! The seamlessness of the process is part of what makes Church of God Ministries so proud to recommend it. “Pastor Don and his wife were just lovely and their approach was gentle, yet firm when it needed to be. When he left, the church was in good shape.”
Finally, TIPS benefits the interim pastor. For Don, it has made a difference in his life as a child of God and as a minister of the gospel. “This ministry has given me the understanding of how all my past experiences can be used for God’s glory and help the local church,” he reflects. “There is something special about being part of helping a church begin a new chapter in their ministry. While I have had the wonderful privilege of ministering in the Church of God for forty-plus years, I believe what I am doing now is the most fulfilling of all.”
In the life of every church, there are times when evaluation, healing, and renewal are essential to taking the significant step of searching for, and inviting, a new pastor to join in the ministry.
That’s where Transitional Interim Pastor Services (TIPS) comes in. The time during a pastoral transition, especially when a pastor has had long tenure or when the church is in crisis, is critical to the church’s long-term health. Our discovery is that churches in transition often could benefit from a short term transitional pastor whose focus is on preparing the church for the new pastor and helping the church move from anxiety to anticipation.
Benefits to the judicatory leader:
- Teaches the church to celebrate the interim time as an opportunity to grow and listen for God’s voice.
- Builds board and congregational morale during the interim and diffuses the anxiety that is very normal in every interim situation.
- Provides high-quality consulting for the local church.
- Gives access to New Church Specialties TIPS training.
- Provides an overview of the health of the church in transition.
- Helps build spiritual and relational vitality.
- Helps prepare the congregation to welcome its new pastor.
- Preaching and teaching that prepares the church for a successful future.
Becoming a TIPS Church
The qualifications for a TIPS church are as follows:
- Churches that have had a long-term pastor, now going through transition.
- Churches in crisis.
- Churches with unresolved conflict, usually of a relational nature.
- Churches that have plateaued.
- Churches with the capacity to pay a full-time pastor.